Two Irish nationals living in the Dover area have been charged in connection with people smuggling following arrests made on Thursday (March 5).
A total of four men were arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into a crime group suspected of transporting migrants from the continent into the UK in the back of lorries.
The arrests followed the discovery of 10 migrants in a lorry carrying a load of tyres near Ghent in Belgium on Thursday. The migrants, believed to be two adults and eight juveniles, are thought to be from south east Asia.
The Belgian authorities were acting on information from the NCA, and arrested the driver of the vehicle, a 64-year-old man from Glasgow.
NCA officers then arrested three further men, two in Dover, Irish nationals aged 39 and 48, on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. A 30-year-old man was subsequently arrested in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, yesterday.
DOVER: Around four unmarked police cars and plain clothes officers seen in Market Square shortly after 11am this morning. Incident currently unknown. Photo @Mattpattmarla pic.twitter.com/sjvHv0ojeT
— Kent 999s (@Kent_999s) March 5, 2020
The three arrested in Dover and Ireland were questioned by NCA investigators, while officers have also carried out searches at properties in Northern Ireland and Kent. At an address in Dover two suspected firearms were seized.
Wayne Sherlock, 39, and Eoin Nowlan, 48, have been charged with conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration. Both men were remanded in custody following a hearing at Canterbury Magistrates Court.
The 64 year old lorry driver arrested in Belgium has been remanded in custody and the 30 year old man arrested in County Antrim has been released on bail.
NCA regional head of investigation Gerry McLean said: “Our close working with our Belgian partners in this instance has led to the safeguarding of a number of migrants who had been put in a very dangerous situation, and we are grateful for their support.
“We have seen only recently in Essex the tragic consequences which these types of attempts can have.
“Working with partners at home and abroad, we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in illegal immigration, and our investigation into this matter continues.”